Living on one income
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Living on one income isn’t easy! I never made a lot compared to my husband, but I brought in enough extra to pay a few bills and buy our groceries. The idea that I would one day quit the workforce and stay home with our children didn’t occur to us. That’s exactly what happened about a month into our relationship.
I technically was a stay at home wife for about ten to eleven months before River was born. That gave me time to really figure out our budget and how we would make it on one income with a new addition on the way. Since daycare would eat the what little money I did make, it was essential that we make it work.
Learning to find ways to save and make money from home was full of trial and error. Now about four years into being a stay at home mom I feel like I’ve got the whole living on one income thing down. Here’s how you can be a one income family too!
1. Plan ahead of time
If you know ahead of time that you’re going to be going down to one income get prepared. Pay off any debts that you can and get bills paid up to date. Start a saving money, so you have a rainy day fund. Get a budget planned out and try it out while you still have wiggle room.
Another important thing is figuring out what you’re responsible for in your new role. Are you going to do all the cleaning, cooking, etc? Figure out exactly what is expected of you and your partner, so there aren’t huge fights down the road.
I learned very quickly that I could make many things by hand. When I became pregnant with River, we bought her a mini crib. I soon realized they don’t make very many options for mini crib bedding. I love the Online fabric store and Micheal’s for my craft supplies.
That’s when I decided to learn how to sew, I sewed all of River’s bedding and many other of our household items. I became so good at sewing that I even ran my own business selling crib bedding.
Pinterest is a great way to figure out how to DIY for many things. I make farmhouse decor for my house, gifts for holidays, activities for River and many other things.
3. Learning to cook from scratch
Before meeting Cody I lived with family my whole life. I knew basic cooking skills, but nothing that was impressive. After several failed Pinterest meals and one fire (don’t ask), I finally started getting the hang of cooking.
I was soon making my own pizza, bread, our favorite fast food meals and many other things from scratch. I saved us quite a bit by making everything at home and not buying prepackaged food.
It also is much healthier not eating all those chemicals and preservatives. It has given us the opportunity to try out new foods and enjoy more family time together.
4. Couponing and shopping deals
Fred Meyers is my go-to store for shopping. I have a rewards card that helps save me money in multiple ways. I get gas points, I can upload coupons to the card and at the end of each quarter, I can earn money back just for shopping. On their website, I can look at all the available coupons and instantly download them to my card. I also can look at their weekly ads and see what’s on sale.
I’m not a huge couponer or deal shopper, but I can find some really nice deals once in a while that stretches our budget further. Fred Myers will also show me the price of items I’ve bought in the past, so I can see if they’re a good price to stock up on.
Another tip is to buy the store brand, it’s usually cheaper and just as good as the name brand. Even if the generic brand isn’t cheaper there is usually more of whatever the product is. I buy us cheese sticks constantly and the Fred Myers brand cost the same as the other name brands but there are more cheese sticks in a package. It also usually tastes as good or even better.
- Simple living as a stay at home mom
- Self-care as a stay at home mom
- Being a stay at home mom without going crazy
5. Meal planning
I make a plan every week, so when I go to the store I know exactly what to get and don’t just randomly buy items. It helps me estimate about how much I’m going to spend, so I know when to put a cheaper meal in the plan or if I have room for a more expensive favorite. I tend to also meal plan around the weekly deals, so I can get more bang for my buck.
I like to bulk up my meals with cheap staples like beans, rice, and potatoes. I also advise that you buy non-perishables in bulk, that way you always have them on hand and it saves you money in the long run.
Try to also plan your breakfasts meals and lunches as well. That’s where I’ll get lazy and end up going out to eat with the kids. Try simple things like eggs, peanut butter toast or smoothies for breakfast. For lunch, you can do things like sandwiches, homemade chicken tenders, or homemade mac and cheese.
6. Cut out the fast food
Fast food is my enemy! With me being pregnant and having a toddler, it’s just easier to grab something already made. I now make snack bags and juice boxes for the car, so I always have something available. I will also pack a lunch if I know we’ll be out at lunchtime.
Having a meal plan for every meal also helps with the food blahs. I also cut up fresh fruit and veggies and put them in containers, so they’re easy to grab. Just add a small container of ranch or peanut butter and you’re good to go.
7. Cut unnecessary costs
Cable is a huge thing that can go. Switch over to cheaper alternatives like Netflix or Hulu. They still give you tons of shows to watch at a far cheaper cost. Same goes for your cell phone plan, switch to a cheaper provider.
Save energy by shutting off lights when you leave a room, turn the heat down in the winter and keep the air conditioner at a higher setting. Also, make sure closing your curtains will keep cold and warm air out and cold and warm air in.
Instead of buying name brand clothes and brand new appliances try the thrift stores first or eBay. Find free or cheap entertainment such as playing at the park and have a picnic, going to a splash pad in the summer and sledding in the winter. Maybe even start a garden with your kids, this way they learn about growing and you have almost free fruits and vegetables.
8. Have a Budget and Keep to it
This is the key to being a one income family is a budget. Figure out exactly how much you need to put towards bills, groceries, entertainment and other expenses. Whatever is left you should save in case of emergencies, it seems like when you don’t have an emergency fund everything falls apart.
Make sure you both get some “fun” money though. If all you do is focus on not spending and saving it’s going to wear on you mentally. You guys need to go on dates once in a while. Get your nails done or go out for a meal once in awhile. This will help you keep to your budget because you don’t feel deprived.
9. try taking surveys
Swagbucks isn’t just about taking surveys, you can earn points by searching the internet, online shopping, or watching videos throughout the day. I’m constantly getting Amazon gift cards because I earn points so fast. I just leave the videos on in the background while I work and use their search engine whenever I’m looking something up.
I do surveys when the kids are napping, waiting at the doctor’s or while we’re laying in bed. Like I said, I don’t make a lot taking the surveys, but for the time I spend on doing them, it’s worth it.
Living on one income is hard, but you can do it!